I am deeply concerned to read the latest statistics provided by the Santa Monica Fire Department and Los Angeles Fire Department that both fatal and non-fatal child drownings are increasing in the area (“‘Near drowning’ cases rise in Santa Monica,” Oct. 5).
More than 700 children younger than 15 fatally drown every year in America – nearly 400 in pools and spas. Another 5,400 children are rushed to the emergency room each year because of non-fatal drowning injuries in pools or spas. Drowning remains the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4.
This year in California alone, 29 children have fatally drowned in pools and spas, according to data compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation.
Enjoy swimming safely by following just a few simple safety steps. Children should never be in or near the water without the supervision of an adult. The adult should be solely focused on watching the child, not reading or texting on his or her phone. Teaching kids to swim is an important lifesaving skill. Swimming pools should always be surrounded by a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
CPSC has joined with the drowning prevention community to use the World Health Organization’s definition of drowning as “experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion” in water, which includes both fatal drowning and non-fatal drowning. Regardless of how it’s defined, what is most important is that we help families be safer around the water.
Visit PoolSafely.gov to learn more about these lifesaving steps, and spend at least a few minutes talking to your child about water safety while you take our Pool Safely Pledge.
Elliot F. Kaye
Chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission